EFCC Arraigns TSTV, Executives over Alleged Tax Evasion, 419

Federal government has dragged two top executives of Telecom Satellites Limited (TSTV), to court over alleged tax evasion, money laundering and advanced fee fraud offences.

The accused are Dr Bright Ikechukwu Echefu, managing director and chief executive officer of TSTV and Dr Felix Nnamdi Ignoanuga said to be the executive director of the telecom satellites company.

They were put on trial at the federal high court in Abuja, alongside TSTV and another company, Briechberg Investment Limited by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on 9-count criminal charges.

Part of the charges are that the two men on May 18, 2020, committed money laundering bordering on tax evasion, unremitted VAT, Company income tax and Pay As You Earn (PAYE), deducted from the salaries of 165 workers punishable under section 15 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 as amended in 2012.

They were alleged to have on May 18, 2020, diverted to their personal use N33. 9M, N13. 5M and N19. 4M tax money payable to the federal government in breach of section 15 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act.

On his part alone, Dr Bright Ikechukwu Echefu who is the first accused person was alleged to have defrauded Turaki Kabir Tanimu, SAN, of N960 million under false pretences.

The charge indicated that Echefu while acting as the managing director of Briechberg Investment Limited on May 18, 2020, with intent to defraud obtained the sum of N150m from Tanimu who is the Managing Director of Kalsiyam Farm as a loan to acquire modern equipment for his telecom company.

READ ALSO  GTBank staff arraigned for stealing customers’ N9.9 million

The money was said to have been paid into Briechberg Investment Limited account number 1015561485 domicile at Zenith Bank.

On the same day, the accused person was said to have obtained another N380m paid into the same account for the same purpose while another N400m was also allegedly secured by the accused the same day and for the same purpose from Tanimu who is also the MD of BYI General and paid into the same account.

Still on the same May 18, 2020, Turaki SAN, while acting as Managing Director of K. T Turake made two payments of N15M each into the Briechberg Investment Limited bank account belonging to Dr Bright Ikechukwu Echefu for the same purpose.

It will be recalled that Turaki Kabir Tanimu SAN was at a time, a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and was physically present in court during Thursday’s arraignment of the defendants.

When the charges were read to them, the two accused persons denied the alleged fraud charges.

Sylvanus Tahir, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria who led the prosecution team vehemently objected to the bail application made by Eyitayo Fatigun, SAN on behalf of the two defendants.

While Tahir insisted that the accused persons are flight risks having allegedly been evading arrest, Fatigun disagreed and insisted that EFCC itself granted them administrative bail.

In a short ruling, Justice Inyang Edem Ekwo adopted the EFCC bail conditions to allow the two men go home.

The Judge, however, ordered them not to travel out of the country without the permission of the court while the immigration must be notified of the seizure of their international passports.

READ ALSO  Nigerian Woman in UK Accuses Alat by Wema of Blocking Access to N373,000 for Over 8 Months

He warned that any breach of the bail conditions or absence in court would automatically lead to revocation of their bail and to remain in custody throughout the trial period.

Justice Ekwo directed the EFCC to transmit the record of administrative bail granted to the defendants to the court within seven days.

Meanwhile, July 15, 16 and 17 have been fixed for the commencement of trial.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *